By Craig Burns
Two of today's most popular shows, Mad Men and Modern Family, provide a look at dads across the generations. The dads in Mad Men are far more concerned with affairs at work (and affairs at motels) than with their children. After all, the perception is that in that era, parenting was primarily the mother's job.
Mad Men — adultery and absence
Mad Men's Don Draper is no role model with his adultery, lying, cheating and identity theft. In fact, throughout the series, it's sometimes easy to forget he's a dad. TV dads rarely prove to be role models, although our society certainly seems to think so sometimes. Men may want to be like Don Draper, and women to be with him, but who would choose him to raise their children?
Modern Family — overcompensation and perfect parenting
Modern Family shows us the remarried older father, the cool dad who tries too hard and the two-father family, each one struggling to establish his role while proving that he's a great parent. Obviously it's a sitcom, so looking for a role model here is like looking for vegetarian options at a rib cook-off. Phil, the dad trying to be his kids' pal, epitomizes the modern dad, overcompensating for the lack of involvement by previous generations by overdoing it on a massive scale. Cam and Mitchell are so concerned about being seen as perfect parents that they obsess over getting into the best preschools, the latest parenting fads and being most popular at tumbling class.
Over the years, while living with our own fathers, we lived with our TV dads as well. As a father myself, there are days I feel like my dad — there are also days I feel a little bit like Al Bundy. TV dads may reflect reality, but they aren't real. Your dad is. If he's been there for you, unlike the fathers on Mad Men, and he's been involved in your life, like the dads of Modern Family, thank him this Father's Day.